It was a decisive win away from home for our Gunners as we cruised to a 4-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday evening.
Goals from Stina Blackstenius, Frida Maanum and Victoria Pelova made for a comfortable display at the Broadfield Stadium, with the three points putting us above Manchester City in the WSL standings.
Despite a last-minute change to the starting XI as Lia Walti dropped to the bench as was replaced by Jodie Taylor, we wasted no time whatsoever stamping our authority on the game.
In only the sixth minute of play, captain Katie McCabe spotted Stina Blackstenius’ surging run down the left channel and played her through. Blackstenius then cut inside and coolly converted into the bottom-right corner to give us a quick lead.
She then doubled our advantage and her own tally almost immediately by capitalising on a Brighton defensive error in the eighth minute. Blackstenius had both Jodie Taylor and Victoria Pelova on her flanks but chose to go alone to bag a two-minute brace.
Our Swedish striker wasn't done yet and very nearly got the quickest hat trick in WSL history. A delightful scoop over the top from Frida Maanum found Blackstenius one-on-one with Megan Walsh in goal. She put the ball in the net and despite being considerably onside, the flag was up.
The good chances continued to fall for our Gunners in a dominant first half. Captain Katie McCabe made a marauding run into Brighton’s half unchallenged and her eventual scooped cross from the edge of the six-yard box found Blackstenius once again but her powerful header ricocheted off the crossbar.
Buoyed by our early two-goal cushion, Frida Maanum got our third following some neat, counter-attacking football later on in the half. Rafaelle's cross into a crowded box was slightly overhit but Noelle Maritz was there to reset for the second phase. Her ball found Maanum ready and waiting and the Norwegian's angled header soon nestled in the corner.
Victoria Pelova made it 4-0 before the break with her first WSL goal. After beginning the move with a powerful drive through the park, the Dutch midfielder then picked up an excellent through ball from Maanum and took her goal superbly from a tight angle.
Our control and composure continued into the second half as Brighton attempted to fight their way onto the scoresheet. Some fine chances from the Seagulls required two quick blocks from Jen Beattie and Manuela Zinsberger, and at the other end, Walsh pulled off a great fingertip save to deny Kathrine Kuhl.
The hosts did grow into the second half and a glorious last-minute stop from Lotte Wubben-Moy prevented a certain goal from close-range. Our historic clean sheet against Brighton remains intact.
In some much-needed good injury news, this fixture saw the return of Caitlin Foord. Our Aussie winger, injured since our home fixture against Manchester City in April, looked lively as a second-half substitute. Teyah Goldie also made her first appearance in 14 months since rupturing her ACL in 2022 and with her late substitute appearance, 18-year-old Freya Godfrey earned her official debut for The Arsenal.
What it means
The victory means we move into third place and back into the Champions League qualifying spots, overtaking Manchester City with a game in hand still.
Next up is an away trip to Merseyside to face Brian Sorensen's Everton on May 17.
Arsenal Starting XI: Zinsberger (GK), Maritz, Beattie, Rafaelle (Gio, 46 / Foord, 73), Wubben-Moy, McCabe (C), Maanum, Pelova, Taylor, Kuhl (Godfrey, 88), Blackstenius (Goldie, 84)
Subs not used: D’Angelo (GK), Marckese (GK), Walti, Doe
Brighton Starting XI: Walsh (GK), Pattinson, Bergsvand, Stefanovic, Lee, Zigiotti (C), Terland, Green, Kullberg, Morse, Robinson
Subs not used: Startup (GK), Visalli, Sarri, Bance, Stott, Symonds, Carter, Williams
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